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DRM(1) (Digital Radio Mondiale) A digital audio broadcasting (DAB) system for AM radio in Europe. See HD Radio.
(2) (Digital Rights Management) A system for authorizing the viewing or playback of copyrighted material on a user's computer or digital music player. DRM has centered around copyrighted music, with Apple's FairPlay and Microsoft's Windows Digital Rights Manager being the two predominant DRM systems. As broadband Internet and more highly compressed video formats take hold, the focus of DRM broadens to video content. See FairPlay, Windows Media Rights Manager and copy protection.
DRM systems work in conjunction with media player software in the computer and the portable digital music player. They can be designed for various distribution scenarios. For example, songs downloaded from a music service may only be played as long as the user maintains a subscription. Titles can be configured to expire after they have been played some number of times or on a particular date. In many cases, the song titles are tied to some number of computers and portable players. The software prohibits the user from playing titles on other devices without obtaining additional licenses or permission from the vendor, which is why some people call DRM "digital restrictions management." DRM prevents users from converting purchased products to alternate formats that might be more convenient for playback. See analog hole.
The Main Point
DRM enables the artists who create music to be paid for their efforts. If a user pays a dollar for downloading a song, a part of that dollar goes to the music company, and some percentage of that part goes to the artist. Although hundreds of millions of copyrighted songs have been swapped over the Internet, tens of millions of songs have also been paid for since the advent of legitimate online music services. See online music store, peer-to-peer network, MP3, Napster and Rhapsody.